I haven’t read studies, but I have to believe that women with ADHD have a much harder time coping with PMS than those without it. I have always had depression, but my life was mixed with alcohol which makes things a lot less clear, as it is always changing your brain chemistry.
When I quit drinking completely at 33, and started living a more aware life sitting through any type of feeling, I started recognizing patterns. I was probably 36 by the time I realized just how much PMS had affected me earlier on, and have come to realize ADHD only added fuel to an already explosive situation.
It was like a breath of fresh air once I started realizing what was happening. Every month, I feel completely ‘awful terrible the world is ending.’ Every month. In the past I didn’t understand it so ran every which way but into and out of the feelings. Yet I never understood the connection.
It has been a lifesaver to understand just how bad my hormones fluctuate throughout the month, and how my ADHD only increases the problems I have with those fluctuations. Because when I feel bad, my mind plays off that, creates more and more bad feelings, and leads me to believe there is no hope and it will never get better. I feel an actual physical pain like someone punched me in the gut, every single month.
So here are some things I found helpful in coping with this PMS / ADHD issue:
- I know when the storm is coming and batten down the hatches. I let my significant other know (if there is one), friends, family, and self. My calender reminds me and I surround myself with people that are gentle and kind to me.
- I do NOT escape the feelings. I ride the storm knowing the sun will come out again. That is really what it feels like. Every month. Sometimes I am just curled up in bed wondering – will this incredible intense pain ever go away? The good thing about it is I know, without a doubt, yes it will go away.
- I understand biology of the brain is a mystery. There are no proven solutions because we understand so little about the chemistry of the brain. But that is OK – I have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Instead of feeling so bad for ‘feeling bad for no apparent reason,’ I accept the pain like I would a broken foot and work my way through it.
- I try my own remedies. Everyone’s brain chemistry is different, so things that work for one person may not work for another. I find it really important that (with my physician’s approval) I try things that might work for me. Personally, I’ve had tremendous luck with HTP-5, progesterone cream, and a diuretic right before when I start getting massive headaches and serious stress (they suggest maybe it is water build up). These aren’t proven remedies, and they might not be good for your situation, which is why you should always talk to your doctor first. I just think it is important to keep an open mind and explore remedies for your own body.
This does not get rid of my symptoms of PMS, but it makes them tolerable and is amazing for my mental health. I consider it a fun challenge every month to ride the storm, and see if I can figure out a way to conquer the chaos that ensues. I’m trying to outsmart the PMS, and each and every month that I do I find victorious.
Do you think your ADHD exacerbates your PMS? How do you minimize damages??
photo credit: Travis S.
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Last reviewed: 7 Apr 2011
Goetzke, K. (2011). ADHD, PMS and Women: Mastering Monthly Hormones When You Have ADHD. Psych Central.
Retrieved on August 2, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd/2011/04/adhd-pms-and-women-mastering-monthly-hormones-when-you-have-adhd/